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Development and Optimization of Dynamic Atomic Force Microscopy Techniques with Applications in Soft Matter Characterization Open Access

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The overall goals of this project are (i) to improve the current dynamic modes of atomic force microscopy (AFM) with the focus of multifrequency AFM measurements on soft matters in ambient air and liquid environments and (ii) to develop a new methodology for mechanically characterizing the subsurface of soft samples, allowing users to gradually, controllably and reversibly reveal features that are buried under the surface. This dissertation includes a wide range of studies on multifrequency atomic force microscopy. Firstly, the imaging parameters (drive amplitude and frequency) of each eigenmode is studied, optimized based on the observables. Secondly, a new mutltifrequency AFM technique with capability of imaging subsurface features has been developed and verified through experiments.Based on the first goal of the project, an experimental protocol to select excitation frequency in air for single tapping mode and bimodal AFM are provided. Additionally, a rigorous guideline for the selection of drive frequency in ambient air, liquid environment based on the energy quantities and slope of the cantilever’s phase response is established. Finally, an advantage of using higher and stiffer eigenmodes for imaging soft matters has been proposed and verified experimentally. By this technique, subsurface imaging capabilities of AFM are expanded.

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